Local news translated – Nov. 16, 2022

Graphic by U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart Public Affairs Office

Host Nation Update, Nov. 16, 2022

Mask wearing on Public Transportation  

The push by the state government in Schleswig-Holstein to abolish mandatory masks on buses and trains is being rejected by the Stuttgart government. Daniel Günther (CDU), Minister President in Kiel, said on Friday that he would lobby other states to ensure that the mask requirement in public transport would not be extended in 2023. Günther had referred to the personal responsibility of citizens and said, “anyone with symptoms should stay at home.”  A spokesman for the Ministry of Social Affairs in Baden-Württemberg was cautious when asked whether B-W would join Kiel’s push, saying that the Corona state ordinance stipulates the obligation to wear a medical mask on public transport: “At the moment, we have no plans to change this.” He said the current ordinance is in effect until the end of November, and will be extended. “As we are constantly reviewing the infectious situation, we are able to adjust the regulation at any time if the assessment of the necessary protective measures changes.” Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also wants to maintain the mask requirement, people must come to work safely. One must expect rising case numbers in winter, he said. “If we were to suspend the mask requirement and then had a massive wave that would be irresponsible.”  The Stuttgart Transport Association (VVS), expressed doubts about the sense of mandatory masks in public transport . “The acceptance of the mask obligation for passengers has decreased somewhat after more than two pandemic years. Especially because the mask requirement has fallen in other public life, it is becoming increasingly difficult to enforce it.” Germany “currently occupies a special position” with regard to mandatory masks in public transport. In most countries, it was overturned months ago. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Nov 15)


Corona in Baden-Württemberg – State introduces new rules for infected people

Baden-Württemberg’s Minister of Health Manfred Lucha (Greens) has presented a new regulation that is to come into force this Wednesday and aims to abolish quarantine. Last week, the four states of Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Hesse and Schleswig-Holstein had agreed on this relaxation – against the advice of Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD).  A new phase in dealing with the pandemic will be heralded, Minister Lucha said on Tuesday: “Anyone who tests positive for the coronavirus in Baden-Württemberg in future will no longer have to go into mandatory domestic isolation for at least five days from Wednesday, November 16, as was previously the case.” In addition to the core statement, there is an important addition: the new regulations stipulate “in principle, a mask obligation outside the own home” for people who test positive.  “The removal of the obligation to segregate is currently justifiable from an infectiological point of view. This is shown not least by the experience in our neighboring European countries, which have already taken this step,” said Lucha. “However, it is also clear that we cannot simply ignore the coronavirus. Personal protective measures such as wearing masks remain important.” This is also because the number of respiratory illnesses, such as influenza, is increasing. As a general rule, he said, anyone who is sick and has symptoms should stay home and take a sick slip. In the future, anyone who has tested positive for Corona using a rapid test or a PCR test will be required to wear a medical mask or an FFP2 mask for five days: “This obligation applies throughout outside the patient’s own home. This means that even people who have tested positive can, if their state of health permits, go shopping or for a walk in the fresh air, for example,” explained Lucha. Provided that a minimum distance of 1.5 meters from other persons can be maintained outdoors, the mask may also be removed. Children who have not yet started school are exempt from the mask requirement.  Higher standards also apply to clinics and nursing homes: persons tested positive are not allowed to enter or work in medical and nursing facilities for at least five days after the positive test. This does not apply “of course” to people who are being treated, cared for, housed or nursed in these facilities, it says. These protective standards also apply to mass shelters and correctional facilities. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Nov 16)


Corona vs. energy – How the energy crisis is ending the pandemic   

On days like these, you might get the feeling COVID never existed. Currently, the seven-day incidence is more than 200 – which would have been catastrophic at the beginning of the pandemic. But now the figure seems harmless. Perhaps because most people have been vaccinated and Omikron is considered a milder variant. Baden-Württemberg is now even abolishing the obligation to isolate infected persons. Local councils cavort in confined spaces as if there were no risk of infection. And schools are no longer supposed to use their air filters – to save energy. Does this mean COVID is now officially abolished? Or did the virus simply have to give way to the next crisis, the rising energy prices?  Schools are also caught between the issues of Corona and the energy crisis. The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) already called in late summer for air filters to be used “only in hygienically necessary situations” this year. This is because they consume a lot of energy. Last year, they were still the great hope that would protect against infections. The city of Marbach has issued the same recommendation to its schools as the UBA. Volker Müller, principal at the Friedrich Schiller Gymnasium, wants to stick to it. “However, we will have to see how the incidences develop and whether infection protection will not have to take on a predominant role again during the winter,” he says. The filters are ready.  At the Theodor-Heuss-Realschule in Kornwestheim, for example, there is no concern about air filters, says principal Boris Rupnow. There is only one such device in one room there anyway. He would like to continue to open the windows regularly in the winter, when the CO2 traffic light says to do so. He accepts the possibility of higher energy prices: “We need the fresh air, and the children have to be able to learn. (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Nov 15)


A81 near Leonberg -Engelberg tunnel will be closed in the night to Sunday

Drivers will have to reckon with disruptions on Autobahn 81 this weekend. Due to construction work, the Engelberg tunnel near Leonberg (Böblingen district) will be closed in both directions in the night to Sunday. The closure will last from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.  The detour in the direction of Heilbronn will be via the U1 from the Leonberg-West junction and in the direction of Munich/Karlsruhe via the U18 from the Stuttgart-Feuerbach junction.  The two tubes of the Engelberg Tunnel are getting a new inner shell to protect them against rock pressure.  (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Nov 16)


VfB, the Stuttgart’s soccer club on USA trip – VfB has arrived in Austin – here’s what happens next

The whole thing was a bit like a huge family outing. When the VfB Stuttgart squad left for the USA on Monday, it wasn’t just those who are always on board when the Bundesliga team moves into a training camp. Many partners and children of the VfB players and coaches were also on the Lufthansa “Ludwigsburg” plane.  Konstantinos Mavropanos, for example, was on the plane with his Lina, Juan José Perea with his girlfriend Natalya. Pascal Stenzel, Fabian Bredlow, Enzo Millot and goalkeeper coach Steffen Krebs were accompanied by their entire families, some of them with small children. Coach Michael Wimmer came accompanied by his already grown-up daughter.  The trip to Austin/Texas is also intended to strengthen the team feeling, VfB presents itself as a big family and also wants to help the German Football League (DFL) to open up the US market. Cacau (*who recently visited the USAG Stuttgart Garrison)  is also expected to help make German soccer even better known in the States. The former striker has been VfB’s brand ambassador since the summer – and will receive support in the coming days. From an old acquaintance.  Head of Marketing Rouven Kasper: Why VfB Stuttgart is flying to the USA Chief Marketing Officer Rouven KasperWhy VfB Stuttgart is flying to the U.S. Ricardo Osorio joined the VfB squad at the airport in Austin. Together with Cacau, the Mexican had become German champion with VfB in 2007. Now the proximity to his homeland lent itself to accompanying the trip. Together with compatriot Pavel Pardo, Osorio had once ensured that VfB became better known in Central America.   It will also be a sporting event from this Tuesday onwards. The first training session at Austin FC’s St. David’s Performance Center is scheduled for 10 a.m. (local time/minus seven hours from Stuttgart). (Stuttgarter Nachrichten, Nov 15)